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Odinism vs. Christianity: a Debate

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Odin Brotherhood vs. Christianity: A record of a debate between representatives of the Odin Brotherhood, an ancient branch of the religion now called Odinism or Asatru, and the followers of Jesus, the Christian god.


Procedure Edit

This will be a respectful debate between representatives of the Odin Brotherhood and the representatives of Christianity. Our mutual purpose is illumination.

To participate in the debate, open an account here by clicking at the top right of this page and following the instructions.

When choosing your user name here for the debate, choose a name that clearly identifies your allegiance, such as "Pagan" or "Odinist," for one side and "Crusader" and PiousChristian" for the author. In that way, the posts will be clearly identified.

To post your comment, click "edit" at the top of the page. When finished, click "save page" at the bottom.

After posting your comment, sign your comment by clicking on the icon above (the tenth icon from the left, in the panel that has a B at the left.

Also, before posting a comment, create a heading such as Valhalla exists to describe your comment. Boldface your heading by highlighting phrase and clicking on B in the edit panel.

Signed--Odinbrotherhood 20:05, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

THE DEBATE Edit

The Christian god is not infallible. Edit

Hello my name is Defiant a follower of the teachings of the Odin Brotherhood (i will state straight away that anything i publish here are my own thoughts as i am not a member of the Brotherhood or a spokesperson for them either).


The christian god and his words are Inerrant and Infallible is a christians belief,

(Inerrant : In its best sense that's most in line with Christian tradition, it means that the Scriptures are always right (do not err) in fulfilling their purpose : revealing God, God's vision, God's purposes, and God's good news. The teachings of Scripture are not to be disregarded or tossed away as if they were a mistake. They must be dealt with straightforwardly, in a way which affects what we say and do as persons and as a body of believers).

(Infallible : In its best sense, 'infallible' means that when the Bible is speaking the Good News of Christ and describing the character, vision and purpose of God, through the Holy Spirit's work it transcends the sin and spiritual or material flaws of its writers, of the media of communication).

and god can not lie is this right. --He Who Stands Defiant 20:37, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

The Christian god is not infallible

I agree with Defiant. The idea that a god can be perfect is a myth invented by Plato, the Greek philosopher. Originally, the Christian god makes mistakes. Why else would he create a human race and then destroy it with a flood? --Odinbrotherhood 20:15, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Human Ideals Emphasized in Odhinnic Pagan Traditions Edit

I am called Einhverfr, and I follow the way of Odin. There are a great number of shared structures between Norse mythology and Christianity. In fact in some ways, the religions may structurally seem to have as much in common as different (Odhinn/Vili/Ve vs the Christian Trinity for example-- the similarities in theme and structure are close enough that I have argued that this triad could even be borrowed from Christianity). However, in one extremely important area, the traditions are almost opposite: time and the role of human endeavor.

Christian concepts of the time-cycle of the universe are borrowed from Jewish structures, which are borrowed in part from Zoroastrian structures. It holds that the world was created perfect, but then was cast down when Adam and Eve fell from Eden. Christ then offers a means to redemption through belief and acceptance, and the second coming will mark the restoration of the world to the primal paradise and the destruction of those who don't accept Christ. Also there is a strong anti-Cosmic element to scripture, and the World is mentioned as the enemy that Christ overcame in John.

In Norse myth, however, the world starts out as a gaping void and the initial phase is quite hazardous (ice, fire, and water). It is only through the efforts of Odhinn and his brothers that the world is made hospitable at all. Then dwarves are created out of the natural products of decay, and humans are created out of trees through the gifts of breath, frenzy, hair, and good looks. Humans then are in part charged with continually lifting up the cosmos along with the Gods. Many customs of our ancestors were based on this or in preventing its eventual collapse. Burial customs, for example, were in part designed to forestall the end of the world. Yet eventually the world will collapse, societies will fall, and the gods themselves will die.

We don't see the world as the enemy. We see instead a sacred duty to life ourselves and the world up, and to forestall their decay. This is done through strength, courage, wisdom, and, yes, also love and peace where these are appropriate. We seek to grow like trees, to stand strong when opposed, to dwell in happiness, and to keep noble troth. Instead, a significant number of Christians actually look forward to the end of the world, and a review of traditional Christian-themed folk-music suggests that looking forward to death has been extremely common, so this looking forward to the end is deeply rooted in that tradition even where it is no longer seen.

--Einhverfr 16:46, 28 January 2009 (UTC)


Introduction and Replies Edit

Hello, I’m Brock. First, I would like to thank the representatives of the Odin Brotherhood for joining and making this debate possible, and pagan.wikia.com for hosting it.

Now, in this post, I will be making several main points:

1. That Asatru has an inferior basis for its beliefs than Christianity. The Eddas, for example, have shaky textual support and are contradictory.

2. Odin and Norse pantheon have not always been the objects of worship by Northern Europeans.

3. There is strong supporting evidence for Christianity, whereas none for Odinism.


Now, to elaborate on point one. The Bible, especially the New Testament, has the best manuscript evidence of any ancient document. For the Old Testament, we have 95% accuracy in transcription, and 99% for the New Testament, and the questionable material is often a single letter in a word. The manuscript evidence for the Old Testament is impressive. The Dead Sea Scrolls, some of our oldest manuscripts estimated to be from around the time of Christ, agree with our modern Bible almost word-for-word, and agree with the LXX, which was translated from to Greek from Hebrew perhaps as early as the third century BC. The scribes in charge of copying Old Testament manuscripts dedicated their lives to ensuring the preservation of the texts, and copied the texts letter-by-letter. They would also count the number of words and letters, to ensure no mistakes were made. If an error happened to be found, the copy was destroyed. The New Testament is without rival in its textual attestation.

As the scholar F.F. Bruce put it: “There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament.”

There are around 24,000 New Testament manuscripts, of which over 5000 are complete, and in total agreement with one another in over 99% of the text. Compare that to the runner-up, the Iliad, with 643 surviving manuscripts.

The Poetic Edda, however, were not so fortunate. For the Poetic Edda, we have one mostly complete manuscript, the Codex Regius, which dates from around 1270. Other manuscripts include the Edda oblongata (17th century), the Hauksbók (early 1300’s), and the Flateyjarbok (late 1300’s). The order and meaning of a great deal of the passages is subject to controversy, and many interpolations are present (for example, the listing of dwarfs in stanzas 11-16 of the Voluspo). The Prose Edda fairs slightly better, with seven known manuscripts, each differing from the others.

As we can see, the Bible gives the Christian follower a solid foundation for their beliefs, whereas the Poetic Edda is shaky at best and at times gives conflicting reports (for example, in stanzas 27 and 47 of the Voluspo).


Let us know shift our focus from the honored texts to the deities themselves. For secular historians, finding the origin of Hebrew monotheism has proven quite a challenge. All current theories are primarily ad hoc and plagued by numerous problems (for example: http://tinyurl.com/baggfw). Especially when the Karen tribe, located thousands of miles away, had such a very similar religion. Consider their creation hymn:

“Y'wa formed the world originally. He appointed food and drink. He appointed the ‘fruit of trial.’ He gave detailed orders. Mu-kaw-lee deceived two persons. He caused them to eat the fruit of the tree of trial. They obeyed not; they believed not Y'wa…. They became subject to sickness, aging, and death…. “


However, it is certain that Odin has not always been worshipped by the Scandinavians. What we see in early drawings and artifacts is an evident sun and earth cult. Much of the symbolism associated with Odin, such as the rituals that symbolized feasting in Valhalla’s hall, which seems to have come during the first few centuries after Christ.


Now, for the evidence for Christianity, my primary argument will be based off of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. There are five basic historic facts that pertain to the resurrection accepted by almost every scholar. Below are each, and their supporting evidence.

-Jesus' death by crucifixion.

It was reported by Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, in the Talmud, and Mara Bar-Serapion. It would also be the method of executed normal for Romans to use on men like Christ.

-The Disciples' belief that the risen Christ appeared to them

The best evidence for this is that they certainly claimed it, and that they afterward willingly suffered and died for their beliefs.

It is so certain that they really believed to have seen the risen Christ that virtually 100% of scholars agree, even atheists:

“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which He appeared to them as the risen Christ." -Atheist New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann

These things are reported by several ancient sources, such as Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Origen, Ignatius, Dionysius of Corinth, and Tertullian.

-The conversion of the church prosecutor Paul.

Nearly 100% of scholars accept that Paul sincerely converted to Christianity after witnessing the glorified Christ.

His conversion was reported by, of course, himself, as well as by Luke in Acts and it was known by early Christians in Judea.

The sincerity of that conversion is established by the fact that he willingly suffered and eventually died for his beliefs. This is reported by Paul himself, Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth, and Origen.

-The conversion of the skeptic James.

Before seeing the risen Jesus, Mark and John report that James was a skeptic. In 1 Corinthians 15:7, in a creed Paul received within five years of Jesus’ crucifixion, it is reported that Christ appeared to James after His resurrection. Afterward, Paul and Luke identify James as a leader of the Church in Jerusalem. His martyrdom is reported by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria.

- The empty tomb

If the tomb had not been empty, as is reported by all four gospels, Christianity could never have gained the major following it did in Jerusalem, as that was the very city where He was publicly executed and buried. All that his enemies would have had to have done to end the movement once and for all would be to exhume his body and publicly display it. However, this isn’t what they do. It is reported in Matthew, by Justin, and Tertullian that instead the disciples are accused of stealing the body…something that certainly would not have been done if the tomb was still occupied. The fact that both the allies and enemies of Jesus attest to the empty tomb makes it an almost undeniable fact.

Naturalistic explanations cannot account for all of these facts, and are filled with gaping holes. There is only one thing that can reasonably account for all of the evidence: the genuine resurrection of Christ. Further, the resurrection of Jesus makes perfect sense if we go by what He said. He foretold His resurrection repeatedly, yet His disciples didn’t understand what He meant.

Now, I will address each individual entry thus far, starting with Odinbrotherhood’s.

“The idea that a god can be perfect is a myth invented by Plato…”

Frankly, the monotheistic concept of God and the members of the Norse pantheon are totally different sorts of entities, similar only in name and the fact that worship is ascribed to them.

That being said, the book of Isaiah portrays God as perfect, and it dates from long before Plato.

I would, though, like to offer one argument of my own for the existence of an omnipotent God: the argument from law.

1.The laws of the universe cannot have arisen by themselves, as there would have had to be deeper laws already in place on the formation of new laws.

2. Therefore, something that no physical laws apply to must have formed the laws, in order for there to be any laws at all. Otherwise, the problem in premise number one would arise once more.

3. Something to which no laws apply, something with no limits whatsoever, is the very definition of omnipotence.

“Originally, the Christian god makes mistakes. Why else would he create a human race and then destroy it with a flood?”

The global flood was caused in order to stop the evil that had overtaken the Earth. Our evil is certainly not the fault of God, as we chose to commit it. Also, not all people died. Noah, if you remember, survived.

Now, I will reply to Einhverfr’s post.

“There are a great number of shared structures between Norse mythology and Christianity. In fact in some ways, the religions may structurally seem to have as much in common as different…”

Agreed. I’d argue that that shows a common source, personally…

“…(Odhinn/Vili/Ve vs the Christian Trinity for example-- the similarities in theme and structure are close enough that I have argued that this triad could even be borrowed from Christianity).”

Possibly, although we don’t really know enough about the brothers of Odin to establish that with any certainty.

“Christian concepts of the time-cycle of the universe are borrowed from Jewish structures, which are borrowed in part from Zoroastrian structures.”

Not true. Actually, there’s no consensus on whether the Judaism borrowed from Zoroastrianism, or Zoroastrianism borrowed from Judaism, or there’s no way to tell, or both were original, etc.

I would like to quote, though, the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, chapter "Mythology of Ancient Persia", page 322:

"The Iranians, who held that the human soul was igneous or luminous, believed that the dead continued to exist. The idea, widespread among Indo-European peoples, of an underground abode of the dead gave them their conception of a var of Jam. Nevertheless the normal destiny of souls was the Light from which they came - hence a celestial abode. This integration with the Ahura, however, was not instantaneous. The Persians no doubt received from the Semites the notion of a last judgment and together with related ideas: prophets and world salvation prepared by a Messiah."

So, if Zoroastrianism borrowed this, I don’t see any reason to think they would not have borrowed more.

That being said, what is your evidence for Judaism copying Zoroastrianism?

“…the second coming will mark the restoration of the world to the primal paradise…”

Sort-of, but it won’t be exactly the same.

“…there is a strong anti-Cosmic element to scripture, and the World is mentioned as the enemy that Christ overcame in John.”

The world is sin-cursed, but I’d like to ask where exactly that is…

“Burial customs, for example, were in part designed to forestall the end of the world.”

How so?

“We don't see the world as the enemy.”

Nor do Christians. The enemy is evil.

“We see instead a sacred duty to lif[t?] ourselves and the world up…”

Same as with Christianity, except that it will be God doing the lifting after death.

As per the looking forward to the end of the world, allow me to explain. What’s being looked forward to (by most Christians, anyway…a lot of people accidentally mix in some Platonism) is the resurrection of ourselves and all creation, and our new responsibilities. (The image of Heaven as a place where we just sit around all day doing nothing is about as erroneous as it is common)! Brock Laveman 06:57, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Replies To Brock Edit

First on your replies to my points, then I will offer replies.

First, you state "The enemy is evil," in reply to my point about anti-cosmic elements in Christian tradition. I suppose it would be helpful if I cite your holy book for my authority: John 16:33 places Christ overcoming the world, as if it were the enemy, and this seems to echo of John 1 passages about light shining in the darkness.

Secondly, you state "Same as with Christianity, except that it will be God doing the lifting after death." This may be somewhat true due to influence of Jewish ideas such as Tikkun Olam ("healing of the world"), and certainly good works are recommended in Paul's epistles in some cases, but the context is quite different. Here you are at best lifting up the world from a fallen state. Our tradition teaches that this role is part of the creation of ourselves and our world as we know it.

Regarding looking forward to the end of the world, then this follows. You look forward to it because you believe that the world will be restored to its past, perfect state, while our tradition holds that it has always been imperfect, and that the end of the world will be a low point between cycles of creation. Our view of the origins and ending of the cosmos are just about opposite yours.

Now for the question of a common source, I think Christianity itself is an amalgam of two main traditions: The Jewish and the Greco-Egyptian. The latter is also an amalgam mostly of Greek and Egyptian sources, but with some Persian sources as well. Hence it is true that a large portion of Christianity (most of what makes it different than Judaism!) shares an old Indo-European root with our tradition through the Greeks. There are also structures in both cases which were borrowed later, and this borrowing appears to have gone different directions in different ages (Christianity -> Germanic traditions in the Iron Age, the other way in the Middle Ages). So it is more complex than a single root.

On burial customs, it was common to trim the nails of the dead, so as to forestall the building of Loki's ship.

Now on to your main points..... I can't seem to understand your point at all about accuracy of scripture. If scripture is so accurate, and if age of a tradition makes it valuable in itself, why don't you convert to Hinduism or Judaism? Instead, I think you misunderstand the role and purpose of religious tradition and thus make arguments which are largely irrelevant.

Religion itself provides a set of exemplary models (myths to be lived, archetypes to be imitated) and these models thus give meaning to life. Religion is deeply intertwined with language and culture, and the relationship between these three things is quite complex. Religions do change as cultures do. The God of the old testament expresses regret, a feeling which is entirely out of place in any sense of Christian theology I have ever seen. So the ideas of the divine change to the point where religions split off (as happened with Christianity). In fact, Christianity began as an amalgam, and it is fairly easy to show that the origins of many new testament passages in fact arise out of pagan rather than Jewish thought. But this doesn't invalidate Christianity. Even if Christ as such never lived, or even if he did and his story was confused with various pagan gods, the story still serves the purpose I have mentioned above, which is to provide exemplary models. In fact, you can trace the idea of the Trinity back to the same roots as the roots of our tradition (I think there is a secondary borrowing of the Christian Trinity into Norse Myth but that is a separate structure from the sister structure I am talking about now). You can also see the origins of the passage on Christ's baptism (and the descent from heaven of a divine spirit in the form of a bird) in the Greek Magical Papyri from Alexandria, Egypt (and this suggests that Arius may well have been right about Christ). Once again, none of this really addresses what value Christianity has today, though it can be fun to discuss origins.

As to the history of Odin-worship, let me provide for you a quick summary of what is generally (though not universally) agreed upon historically. Odin is the Scandinavian god who is a clear counterpart to Wodan in Old High German, and Woden in Old English (Wodensdaeg -> Wednesday). The complex of Odin, Tyr, Thorr, Freyr, and Freya seems to be a structure which is held in rough commonality among Indo-European peoples generally (compare with Varuna, Mitra, Indra, and the Ashvins in the Vedas). The Indo-Europeans appear to have started in the Eurasian Steppe in the Neolithic period, and may have been the first to domesticate the horse. While the Anatolian (-> Hittite) branch probably broke off in Neolithic times, all other branches appear to have broken off during the bronze age. There are now strong arguments that Indo-European-speaking peoples were the first to:

* work iron (Yamnaya iron finds 700 years before iron pops up elsewhere, though these were not widespread at the time)
* domesticate the horse (no direct evidence, but it is unlikely the Botai-Tersek's domesticated the horse themselves, so they had to get it from somewhere)
* build chariots built for speed (Another steppe culture, probable ancestor of Indo-Iranian group)
* In addition, there are fierce arguments over where wool was first used.  One probable place is among early Indo-Europeans.

Prior to the Germanic peoples moving northward into most of Scandinavia during the late Iron Age, Scandinavia was populated mostly by speakers of Uralic languages which would have been the ancestors of Lappish, Finnish, and Estonian. These languages are fundamentally different in structure from Germanic languages and do not share a common root. They were not Norse nor were they the cultural or linguistic ancestors of the Norse. Their religion, outlook on life, etc would have all been very different. As an example of a difference, these languages have 15 noun cases, and thus can do away with a large number of prepositions (by comparison, Old English has 5 noun cases).

So, if worship of Odin or related gods did not exist in Scandinavia before the late Iron age and we are supposed to believe that this renders the religion somewhat less worthy, then that same argument would suggest that a religion which took hold there only 1000 years or so ago would be even less worthy of our attention. So it seems to me that your argument would support Odinism over Christianity. (BTW, I am not an "Odinist" in the sense of worshipping Odin, but rather seek to BE LIKE Odin.) Furthermore, if religion traditionally is bound up with language and culture (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and other missionary religions being the exceptions), then wouldn't a religion which was bound up with our language be better for us to use?

On to Zoroastrianism..... I don't see a final judgement as something well attested in the Afroasiatic world outside of Talmudic Judaism, and the Talmudic period occurred AFTER the captivity in Babylon. It therefore seems easier to suppose that the Avestan literature influenced the Talmud rather than vice versa. Secondly, mainstream Zoroastrianism didn't hold the world to be fallen, so the context of the end of the world was different. Instead I think the tensions that lead to Zoroastrianism in Iran were the same ones found in Greece which lead to the themes of virtue and decay in Plato's Republic, Timaeus, (and probably Critias if more than a fragment had survived). These tensions are core tensions in all Indo-European mythic traditions, and hence in this area, I don't really see a lot of Afroasiatic influence. (Among the Hittites it is a different story, of course, and several late Zoroastrian groups do show particularly Semitic influence, the most prominent of which IMO was Zurvanism). I think that the themes of the final judgement and the saviors in Zoroastrianism were directly translated into Talmudic and popular Judaism (in particular, seeing Cyrus as the annointed one and thus building a tradition of messianic tales mirroring his actions ending the captivity in Babylon).

Like all cases, the copying may have gone different ways in different times. Yuri Stoyanov's work on the Cathars, "The Hidden Tradition in Europe," discusses a lot of the influence in detail (his thesis is that the Cathars represented to the Church a resurgence of Mithraic ideas).

--Einhverfr 18:01, 7 February 2009 (UTC)


A Partial Reply to Brock Edit

Excellent posts, from both sides.

I would like to address one issue per post. First, this point:

The Bible, especially the New Testament, has the best manuscript evidence of any ancient document. For the Old Testament, we have 95% accuracy in transcription, and 99% for the New Testament, and the questionable material is often a single letter in a word....

There are around 24,000 New Testament manuscripts, of which over 5000 are complete, and in total agreement with one another in over 99% of the text. Compare that to the runner-up, the Iliad, with 643 surviving manuscripts.

The Poetic Edda, however, were not so fortunate. For the Poetic Edda, we have one mostly complete manuscript, the Codex Regius, which dates from around 1270. Other manuscripts include the Edda oblongata (17th century), the Hauksbók (early 1300’s), and the Flateyjarbok (late 1300’s). The order and meaning of a great deal of the passages is subject to controversy, and many interpolations are present (for example, the listing of dwarfs in stanzas 11-16 of the Voluspo). The Prose Edda fairs slightly better, with seven known manuscripts, each differing from the others.

As we can see, the Bible gives the Christian follower a solid foundation for their beliefs, whereas the Poetic Edda is shaky at best and at times gives conflicting reports (for example, in stanzas 27 and 47 of the Voluspo)....''

My first point:

The Bible, in fact, is not well preserved. In no case do we have an original manuscript, only copies of copies.

Compare this to the Book of Going Forth by Day, the pagan "Egyptian Book of the Dead." We have thousands of original copies, written by Egyptian scribes, and preserved so well that we can see the fingerprints on the documents. Also, we have ancient Mesopotamian texts, written by the priests.

Now, in the case of Odinism, you are correct, the Eddaic Verses are preserved in only late manuscripts. But our gods commonly visit the earth in this day and age. We have direct communications. Your god last spoke to John 19 centuries ago. Jehovah last spoke to the Hebrews in the whirlwind of Job, a few thousand years ago. Now, only the dead see the Christian god, in the tunnel of light.

--Odinbrotherhood 08:25, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

A Reply to Brock Edit

Let me start with my look at your post, most statistics are made up by the weak to support and validate there standpoint, thereby giving credence to thier own thoughts, you listed many with no actual reference to where those statistics came from. I would not be surprised to find they are from a christian biased researcher ill add to that they are from the aforementioned. In regards to the one person you qouted as a source FF Bruce "I view the New Testament as historically reliable and that the truth claims of Christianity hinge on it being so" rather a desperate choice of phrase in my opinion and highlights the shaky underbelly that holds up christianity. And this wizened ancient scholar died in 600, 1600 or 1750 no in 1990.

"There are around 24,000 New Testament manuscripts, of which over 5000 are complete, and in total agreement with one another in over 99% of the text." I think most of these texts you are using here are held in the vatican, most have not been seen by any scholars outside of the vaticans own and any texts released will always be to substantiate the claims of christianity.

As for your take on the Eddas no one can really give a date, and the fact they do sometimes contradict each other is fantastic, Its where the credibility comes from no person sees the same thing, no persons memory is the same, the core details in the Eddas are interwoven like a web, not rehashed reordered rhetoric.

You say "As we can see, the Bible gives the Christian follower a solid foundation for their beliefs" how did you arrive at that conclusion from what you have written here as there is no substance to that claim. I have noticed no mention of Saxo Grammaticus in your post a christian who studied Norse mythology and Danish history in C 1150 - 1220. Norse mythology and the Eddas in particular are the basis of Odinism, Asatru and all other heathen related belief structures. History tells us they were handed down from mouth to mouth and had various regional differences and folk lore to them and folk attributing different languages and dialects within them, these were passed down over history before time was a concept when people populated villages not countrys. Before most of them were absorbed into christianity, like Yule, Ostara and the Feast of Vali to name just some. Let me expand this notion of what heathen based faiths in particular to me Odinism in a sentence, "Odinism is an ancient religion that acknowledges the gods by fostering thought, courage, honor, light, and beauty. Older than history, Odinism is all that was called wisdom when the world was new and fresh."

Christianity in my opinion is the opposite it grew as citys grew it changed and adapted customs as it spread it was a brutal master and a poor friend to poor people, it was sophisticated ill give you that but that was before man grew past its contradictions. Your followers today are growing less and less in the western world you only thrive where education is poor, and in most countrys christian controlled and dependant like western Europe was during the time of its power. most christians are so by default not choice, or choice by necessity.

As to your references to the old testament i hope you even follow liviticus and his rules as most christians dont and most denounce the old testament.

--He Who Stands Defiant 20:36, 8 February 2009 (UTC)


Jesus Incorrectly Quotes the Bible Edit

Curiously, Jesus himself misquoted the Bible. According to Luke 24:46, Jesus made this declaration: "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead the third day."

In reality, there is no such scriptural statement on the messiah’s resurrection on the third day in the Old Testament.

Is this the work of an infallible god?

Of course, the gods of Asgard are not infallible. They make mistakes--and they learn.

--Odinbrotherhood 22:56, 8 February 2009 (UTC)


Second Reply Edit

I will be responding to each post in the order they appear on the page.

“…John 16:33 places Christ overcoming the world, as if it were the enemy…”

Perhaps, but I wouldn’t place a Gnostic meaning on it. Christ says in that verse, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Its more in the sense of overcoming the trouble the world will bring.

“Secondly, you state ‘Same as with Christianity, except that it will be God doing the lifting after death.’ This may be somewhat true due to influence of Jewish ideas such as Tikkun Olam…”

Well, obviously Christian doctrines were influenced by those found in Judaism…it is the same God, after all! Anyway, Tikkun Olam has more to do with our behavior in this life making the world in its current state better. I was referring to the resurrection.

“Here you are at best lifting up the world from a fallen state.”

I agree, but can you honestly say the world doesn’t need any lifting?

“Our tradition teaches that this role is part of the creation of ourselves and our world as we know it.”

Christianity also teaches that humans play an extremely important role in the world. Our primary purpose, Biblically speaking, is that we’re God’s agents.

“You look forward to it because you believe that the world will be restored to its past, perfect state, while our tradition holds that it has always been imperfect, and that the end of the world will be a low point between cycles of creation. Our view of the origins and ending of the cosmos are just about opposite yours.”

I agree.

“…I think Christianity itself is an amalgam of two main traditions: The Jewish and the Greco-Egyptian.”

Obviously Jewish for reasons mentioned above. I’d like to ask, though, for your evidence of any sort of borrowing from the latter traditions.

“…I can't seem to understand your point at all about accuracy of scripture.”

While scripture is accurate (a point which I can defend in a later post, if you wish), the point of that argument wasn’t so much accuracy as textual preservation.

“The God of the old testament expresses regret, a feeling which is entirely out of place in any sense of Christian theology I have ever seen.” Let’s examine the word used more closely. When the Bible says that God “regrets” something, the word used is “nacham”, which translated from the Hebrew means “a prim. root; prop. to sigh, i.e. breathe strongly; by impl. to be sorry, i.e. (in a favorable sense) to pity, console, or (reflex.) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself): --comfort (self), ease [one's self], repent (-er, -ing, self).”

My question would be, why isn’t it possible to grieve and feel sorry over something, even if you know its going to happen? You’re probably aware that, at some point in your life, its very likely one or both of your parents are going to die. You know that now, but does that mean you can’t grieve over it when it does happen?

Also, Jesus in the New Testament expresses lament for various things, such as, among other thing, his disciples’ lack of faith (Mark 4:40, Matthew 14:31, etc.).

“So the ideas of the divine change to the point where religions split off (as happened with Christianity).”

Right, but I’d argue in this case the idea of the divine became a bit more accurate.

Actually, many Christian doctrines couldn’t have come about unless there really was a resurrection.

“In fact, Christianity began as an amalgam, and it is fairly easy to show that the origins of many new testament passages in fact arise out of pagan rather than Jewish thought.”

Such as?

“Even if Christ as such never lived…”

Historians are unanimous in their agreement that he did.

“…or even if he did and his story was confused with various pagan gods…”

There is not a shred of evidence for that and even less scholarly support for it.

“…the story still serves the purpose I have mentioned above, which is to provide exemplary models.”

What’s the point if it isn’t true? We should learn the truth about God (or the gods) and live accordingly.

I agree with Paul on this matter:

1 Corinthians 15:32 - “…If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’“

“In fact, you can trace the idea of the Trinity back to the same roots as the roots of our tradition…”

In essence, I‘d agree…but I’d ask what the “roots” you’re referring to are.

“You can also see the origins of the passage on Christ's baptism (and the descent from heaven of a divine spirit in the form of a bird) in the Greek Magical Papyri from Alexandria, Egypt…”

What is the name of this document, and what does it say? Also, keep in mind that the gospel went to Egypt very early, so any borrowing could very likely have been the other way around!

“Once again, none of this really addresses what value Christianity has today…”

If it isn’t true, why bother following it? Our hope is in vain, as Paul says.

“So, if worship of Odin or related gods did not exist in Scandinavia before the late Iron age and we are supposed to believe that this renders the religion somewhat less worthy, then that same argument would suggest that a religion which took hold there only 1000 years or so ago would be even less worthy of our attention.”

No, the point is that if Odin only came about later, its highly likely he is fictional and the result of legendary development. (Just to clarify, by “fictional” I mean he himself is merely a tale, not that the Norse considered him to not exist).

“(BTW, I am not an ‘Odinist’ in the sense of worshipping Odin, but rather seek to BE LIKE Odin.)”

I see. That’s certainly interesting, but if I may ask: what do you actually believe to be true?

Anyway, Odin in the lore is depicted as a “…somewhat sinister god”, as H.R. Ellis Davidson stated. For an example, the wooing of Rind, where Odin deceived a girl’s father so that he can bind, drug, and rape his daughter.

“…wouldn't a religion which was bound up with our language be better for us to use?”

I’d argue that, if Christianity is true and there is only one supreme God of the world, then it would not be. Such a God would transcend things like language.

“It therefore seems easier to suppose that the Avestan literature influenced the Talmud rather than vice versa.”

While it is true that Zoroastrianism had an idea that sounds like, and probably is, bodily resurrection, its most clear only in Zoroastrian texts dated after even the time of Jesus. As for the final judgment, remember the consensus seems to be for that particular thing it was Zoroastrianism that was doing the borrowing.

“…the Talmudic period occurred AFTER the captivity in Babylon.”

Right, but if we go purely by the dates of the texts (Zoroastrian and the Old Testament), we would have to assume the Persians got the idea from the Jews.

Its also very possible nobody borrowed from anybody as R.C. Zaehner said:

“The case for a Judeo-Christian dependence on Zoroastrianism in its purely eschatological thinking is quite different. And not at all convincing, for apart from a few hints in the Gathas which we shall shortly be considering and a short passage in Yasht 19.80-90 in which a deathless existence in body and soul at the end of time is affirmed, we have no evidence as to what eschatological ideas the Zoroastrians had in the last four centuries before Christ. The eschatologies of the Pahlavi books, though agreeing in their broad outlines, differ very considerably in detail and emphasis; they do not correspond at all closely to the eschatological writings of the intertestimentary period nor to those of St. Paul and the apocalypse of St. John. They do, however, agree that there will be a general resurrection of the body as well as soul, but this idea would be the natural corollary to the survival of the soul as a moral entity, once that had been accepted, since both Jew and Zoroastrian regarded soul and body as being two aspects, ultimately inseperable, of the one human personality.”

So, even if we assume some borrowing occurred (which isn’t even necessary in the first place), the evidence seems to point to it being the Persians.

That ends my reply to Einhverfr. Now I will address Odinbrotherhood’s post.

“The Bible, in fact, is not well preserved. In no case do we have an original manuscript, only copies of copies.”

That is the case for all ancient documents. Its doubtful having the original manuscripts for ancient writings would be possible at all, given the materials they used. The copies of the Biblical text, however, are in almost total agreement with one another.

“Compare this to the Book of Going Forth by Day, the pagan ‘Egyptian Book of the Dead.’ We have thousands of original copies, written by Egyptian scribes, and preserved so well that we can see the fingerprints on the documents.”

Those are not original manuscripts, either.

“Also, we have ancient Mesopotamian texts, written by the priests.”

Similarly, we have the LXX for the Bible.

“…our gods commonly visit the earth in this day and age. We have direct communications.”

I’d like to ask for some evidence for this.

Remember also that Christians claim they can feel God working in their lives, and many claim to have had direct communications from Him. The issue is, though, that a direct, undeniable appearance of God to people would be a coercive miracle, and would violate free will. At that point, choosing God would be like choosing the sun…you don’t really have a choice about it.

“Jehovah last spoke to the Hebrews in the whirlwind of Job, a few thousand years ago.”

Other times where God directly speaks, such as at mount Sinai, take place long after the events in the book of Job.

That ends my reply to Odinbrotherhood. Now I will respond to He Who Stands Defiant.

“…most statistics are made up by the weak to support and validate there standpoint, thereby giving credence to thier own thoughts, you listed many with no actual reference to where those statistics came from.”

True, my apologies. I’ll cite my sources from now on.

For the NT textual data, the source was The Text of the New Testament by Kurt and Barbara Aland. For the OT textual data, my source was J.P. Holding.

“I would not be surprised to find they are from a christian biased researcher…”

This is purely ad hominem.

“…rather a desperate choice of phrase in my opinion and highlights the shaky underbelly that holds up christianity.”

You say this, but argue nowhere that the Bible is textually unreliable.

So, what exactly is the point of this comment?

“And this wizened ancient scholar died in 600, 1600 or 1750 no in 1990.”

What of it?

“I think most of these texts you are using here are held in the vatican, most have not been seen by any scholars outside of the vaticans own and any texts released will always be to substantiate the claims of christianity.”

You’ve been reading way too much Dan Brown…and probably some Acharya S, too.

The manuscripts are held in various places; from universities to museums.

“…the fact they do sometimes contradict each other is fantastic, Its where the credibility comes from no person sees the same thing, no persons memory is the same, the core details in the Eddas are interwoven like a web…”

Right, but in this case the core details of the story are totally conflicting.

“…how did you arrive at that conclusion from what you have written here as there is no substance to that claim.”

Allow me to clarify: what I mean was the Bible conveys what it was originally intended to.

“I have noticed no mention of Saxo Grammaticus in your post a christian who studied Norse mythology and Danish history in C 1150 - 1220.”

So…?

“…as [Christianity] spread it was a brutal master and a poor friend to poor people…”

Not true. Christianity benefited the nations it spread to. For example, in Iceland, infanticide was outlawed when Christianity was accepted. (See Ari’s Íslendingabók).

“…that was before man grew past its contradictions.”

What contradictions does Christianity contain?

“Your followers today are growing less and less in the western world…”

True, but not by all that much. Christianity is exploding in other areas, such as China.

“…you only thrive where education is poor…”

That is incorrect.

“…most christians are so by default not choice…”

I.E., born into it. What’s wrong with that?

“…or choice by necessity.”

Maybe in isolated instances, but that is not widespread in the least.

“…i hope you even follow liviticus and his rules…”

Now you’re really going off the deep-end. If you’re going to debate something, at least get some basic information about it, so you can avoid making blatant errors such as this and having to appeal to Vatican conspiracies. Leviticus isn’t a person. “Leviticus” means “about the Levites”, and is the name of the book. Secondly, it and Deuteronomy are written like a contract between a lord and his vassals. We’re no longer signed onto it.

Why would Christians follow it?

“…most denounce the old testament.”

Perhaps the poorly-educated ones.

That ends my reply to He Who Stands Defiant. I will now respond to Odinbrotherhood’s brief addition.

“Curiously, Jesus himself misquoted the Bible. According to Luke 24:46, Jesus made this declaration: ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise from the dead the third day.’ In reality, there is no such scriptural statement on the messiah’s resurrection on the third day in the Old Testament.”

Christ was referencing Hosea 6:1-2:

"Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”

“Of course, the gods of Asgard are not infallible. They make mistakes--and they learn.”

Which brings me to an argument I formulated for the existence of an omnipotent being.

1.The laws of the universe cannot have arisen by themselves, as there would have had to be deeper laws already in place on the formation of new laws.

2. Therefore, something that no physical laws apply to - something omnipotent - must have formed the laws, in order for there to be any laws at all. Otherwise, the problem in premise number one would arise once more.

Even if the Norse pantheon did exist, an omnipotent God would still have to exist as well.

That concludes my response to Odinbrotherhood.

I would like to note that the best evidence for my side, the evidence for the resurrection, was not touched upon in any of your posts. Keep in mind that if true, the resurrection would mean Christianity is correct and the gods of the Norse do not exist.

Brock Laveman 03:43, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Response to BrockEdit

Refferring to the resurrection.

“Here you are at best lifting up the world from a fallen state.”

I agree, but can you honestly say the world doesn’t need any lifting?

There is a big difference though. We see ourselves as lifting the world up to new hights and maintaining a raised-up world, while Christian doctrine typically teaches that we live in a fallen world as punishment. IMO, this is because theologians have the wrong priorities in interpreting the story of the Fall from Eden (which I would argue would be better seen as an adolescence and positive coming of age story at least as it fits in with the commandment to humans in Genesis 1). So while I will admit that a Fall-less interpretation of Christianity is possible or even more likely correct as far as Christian teaching goes, this is not where theologians have gone with the story so it doesn't count. Christianity as normally taught adds an element of "sin" to this equation which is fundamentally unhealthy.

Obviously Jewish for reasons mentioned above. I’d like to ask, though, for your evidence of any sort of borrowing from the latter [Greco-Egyptian] traditions.

Ok, the typical argument goes something like this: The Gospels were not formulated in their current form (even in Greek) until at least the second to third century. If we look at textual constructions, we can see clear borrowing from the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri, for example. Furthermore, Paul seems to frequently borrow conceptual frameworks from his target audience, so this presents a fundamentally different issue.

Now as far as later borrowings which form parts of accepted folk customs rather than part of accepted scripture, this is quite a bit more widespread, and has been an ongoing issue since the days of Tertullian. However, this isn't really what I am talking about here.

While scripture is accurate (a point which I can defend in a later post, if you wish), the point of that argument wasn’t so much accuracy as textual preservation.

This still presupposes a single proper take or version on things. It suggests you can't possibly see vast numbers of local traditions as equally valid.

There is not a shred of evidence for that and even less scholarly support for it.

You really don't think Greek and Persian mystery religions had nothing to do with the development of the story of Christ?

Also historians are not entirely unanimous about the existence of Christ as a historical figure. The first point is that the mass murders of children discussed in the New Testiment are unattested in Roman records or in Roman annals. The first secular source we see talk about the alleged life of Christ is Tacitus, and he simply seems to be using it to discredit Christianity. This puts the life of Christ as a historical figure on about the same footing source-wise as the idea that Odin lived as a human king of Denmark, as in Saxo's Gesta Danorum. However, this has nothing to do with religious validity, just as a matter of looking at historical sources fairly without being clouded by religious biases.

What’s the point if it isn’t true? We should learn the truth about God (or the gods) and live accordingly.

You are defining truth as "literal fact" while I am defining it for the purpose of religion as "meaningful, valid exemplary model." Evolution can be valid as a literal fact but creation stories can still provide meaningful, valid exemplary models (i.e, situational truths).

In essence, I‘d agree…but I’d ask what the “roots” you’re referring to are.

The first articulation of what seems to have become the Christian Trinity was made by Plato in the 5th century BCE. The case that he believed in a triune god is based on the combination of Letters, Timaeus, and Republic and requires reading these three together and observing cross-references. Plato's model was that God was likened to a human being with separate head, heart, and belly principles. The head was Dyupiter ("Shining Father"), the heart was the son of the head-principle sometimes referred to as Logos (word translated from Koine Greek as Word in John), and the belly was unmentioned directly in Plato's writings, but generally assumed to refer to the Word Soul of Timaeus.

As F. M. Cornford has largely demonstrated, Early Greek Philosophy up through and including Plato, drew a large portion of its conceptual framework from Greek religion. Plato, I think the consensus is, stood at a crossroads as being one who was really struggling with the constraints of these aspects of conditioning of his thought.

However, Georgez Dumezil has largely demonstrated that Plato's head/heart/belly division draws from a consistent representation of social and divine models shown not only elsewhere in Greek religion (for example, oath formulas), but also elsewhere across the Indo-European world. In essence the conceptual three-fold division was something that the early Greeks brought with them to Greece and developed in parallel to the First Capitoline Triad in Rome or the Odin/Thorr/Freyr divisions in Norse myth. Similar models are also found in Vedic ritual, Greek law, Irish law, Irish myth, and so forth.

The Gospel according to John, though, borrows the language and textual constructions from Neoplatonists and this is where the Christian Trinity comes from.

What is the name of this document, and what does it say? Also, keep in mind that the gospel went to Egypt very early, so any borrowing could very likely have been the other way around!

Iirc, this is the Great Magical Papyrus which is currently in Paris. The argument has to do with an initiation ritual by water immersion (noting that elsewhere in the Greek Magical Papyri, animal sacrifices are drowned as a form of hallowing, so this has death/resurrection overtones as well). The specific structures include the initiate saying lines such as:

"I am the son of a living god"

and the sign which validates the initiation, which is that a spirit in the form of a hawk will descend and drop a rock at the initiate's feet. The overall structures are attested in the PGM tradition before they are attested in the Biblical tradition, and so they are presumed (by Morton Smith at any rate) to be the source of the borrowing.

I see. That’s certainly interesting, but if I may ask: what do you actually believe to be true?

Good question, and one I am not entirely sure of the answer to. I suppose my framework of "literal fact" is that there is a pantheistic aspect to reality which is fundamentally and impossibly beyond our grasp. It is not a force, a being, or anything like that. It just "is" and exists beyond all this limit. It is so abstract that we cannot relate to it. I will call this "The Divine."

Religious traditions, however, create a framework for approaching The Divine, a way for communicating our experiences along the way, and a way to help others along the path. Religions are an organic part of human culture, in my view, not something where revelation has the monopoly on truth. At he same time, this interface goes well beyond what we think of as objective or subjective. The gods we create through our culture can walk among us.

Now how I practice my spirituality. I seek to emulate Odin and be like him in whatever ways I find useful. I seek to emulate other gods in whatever ways I find useful. I give offerings to the land spirits, the ancestors, and the gods of Asgard. I have died and risen up again to know the Mysteries, and I may do so again. So my framework of situational truth is based on close study of Norse myth, comparative studies, and the like.

Anyway, Odin in the lore is depicted as a “…somewhat sinister god”, as H.R. Ellis Davidson stated. For an example, the wooing of Rind, where Odin deceived a girl’s father so that he can bind, drug, and rape his daughter.

Umm.... I think you are confusing stories there a bit. However, regardless of that, Odin is a sinister god. He is a very liminal figure (like the Greek Hermes, he is a boundary-crossing god). He violates all manner of Norse customs in the process. Now, I am not aware of any primary lore detailing rape in the modern sense (the closest you get is the story of Gunloth and the Mead of Inspiration, but there you have every element suggesting their sexual relationship was consentual-- he is said to beguile Gunloth in violation of his oath).

Odin is sort of an outsider, a shadowy figure who sows the seeds of war to prepare for the end of the world. But he is also a god of human potential, as his name means "The Master of Inspiration" (or alternatively "Master of Song" or "Master of Madness"). His ravens are called "Master of Mind" and "Master of Memory." The role of a god like Odin in Norse myth, however, really would take volumes to discuss properly. However, Odin is as necessary for the prosperity and success of the Aesir as he is somewhat scary. His loyalties are to the higher order even where he steps outside the social order.

Hope this helps.

On other points, I will concede that there is genuine disagreement over questions of Zoroastrianism. The questions are probably as much methodological (structuralism vs constructionism, etc)..... --Einhverfr 00:28, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Ressurrection of JesusEdit

Brock you said:

Now, for the evidence for Christianity, my primary argument will be based off of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. There are five basic historic facts that pertain to the resurrection accepted by almost every scholar.
I'll address each of them. But first of all, let me say: call them "historic facts" it's not accurate. The way you put them forward, shows (as should be expected, of course) a very strong Christian bias. So, when defending your views, state clearly you're speaking from a Christian point of view. Christians usually use the Bible to prove the Bible... Why? Because outside it there's very little hard evidence to prove Jesus ever existed! (but that's another thread...)

Let's begin:


-Jesus' death by crucifixion. It was reported by Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, in the Talmud, and Mara Bar-Serapion. It would also be the method of executed normal for Romans to use on men like Christ.

Josephus text is very disputed here. Many scholars agree it's a latter interpolation. There are diferences in style here compared to the rest of the text. So it's no reliable. I assume you're refering to Tacitus "Annals", written in ... 116! Not an eye-witness account anyway... Lucian, also, wrote a century later. Do you trust the Talmud? The very one who says Jesus was the son of a whore with a Roman soldier? "Hearsay" seems more likely to me than "historical facts".

-The Disciples' belief that the risen Christ appeared to them

The best evidence for this is that they certainly claimed it, and that they afterward willingly suffered and died for their beliefs.

I'm 100% positive my late granny appeared to me. I swear to you! Odysseus was also sure Lady Athena appeared to him, and talked to him. Homer could swear to you...

This is not by any means "historical fact"! It's written in a book that some people, pretty much shaken with the death of their master, said they saw him. And let's face it: these books were written decades after the (supposed) fact!

That's all.

It is so certain that they really believed to have seen the risen Christ that virtually 100% of scholars agree, even atheists:

“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which He appeared to them as the risen Christ." -Atheist New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann

These things are reported by several ancient sources, such as Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Origen, Ignatius, Dionysius of Corinth, and Tertullian.

Again, this proves nothing. Someone said he/she saw Jesus. That's all. I'm doubtful of your "atheist scholars"... It doesn't sound too atheistic to me. They may had written something like: “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had [hallucinatory] experiences after Jesus' death in which He [seemed to appear] to them as the risen Christ."


-The conversion of the church prosecutor Paul.

Nearly 100% of scholars accept that Paul sincerely converted to Christianity after witnessing the glorified Christ.

His conversion was reported by, of course, himself, as well as by Luke in Acts and it was known by early Christians in Judea.

The sincerity of that conversion is established by the fact that he willingly suffered and eventually died for his beliefs. This is reported by Paul himself, Luke, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth, and Origen.

Paul is my favourite character in the New Testament! Maybe the only true person in all this, the only one who actually lived in those times (the other exception being of course John the Baptist -- this one appears in Josephus, whithout doubts concerning the text. By the way, I'm refering to apostles and saints, not real historical figures like Nero)

No doubt Paul converted sincerely... But Paul could have been an epileptic (I mean no disrespect, only trying to give you another view, a scientific one). He may had hallucinated in the heat (the weather or in his sincere pursuit of early christians). Someone's conviction proves nothing concerning the truth of one's belifes. Except one believes something wholeheartedly. Paul's sincerity isn't a "historical fact" regarding Jesus ressurrection.

-The conversion of the skeptic James.

Before seeing the risen Jesus, Mark and John report that James was a skeptic. In 1 Corinthians 15:7, in a creed Paul received within five years of Jesus’ crucifixion, it is reported that Christ appeared to James after His resurrection. Afterward, Paul and Luke identify James as a leader of the Church in Jerusalem. His martyrdom is reported by Josephus, Hegesippus, and Clement of Alexandria.

To me it's like a fictional character talking to other. Like Achilles fighting Hector. This tale proves nothing. It's not "historical fact". It's using the Gospel to prove the Gospel is true.

- The empty tomb

If the tomb had not been empty, as is reported by all four gospels, Christianity could never have gained the major following it did in Jerusalem, as that was the very city where He was publicly executed and buried. All that his enemies would have had to have done to end the movement once and for all would be to exhume his body and publicly display it. However, this isn’t what they do. It is reported in Matthew, by Justin, and Tertullian that instead the disciples are accused of stealing the body…something that certainly would not have been done if the tomb was still occupied. The fact that both the allies and enemies of Jesus attest to the empty tomb makes it an almost undeniable fact.

Naturalistic explanations cannot account for all of these facts, and are filled with gaping holes. There is only one thing that can reasonably account for all of the evidence: the genuine resurrection of Christ. Further, the resurrection of Jesus makes perfect sense if we go by what He said. He foretold His resurrection repeatedly, yet His disciples didn’t understand what He meant.

What hard, solid, historical proof do you have to the empty tomb? None. You have texts that say so. You take them on faith and that's all. Maybe the Jews and Romans were right: someone bribed the guards to take the body in the middle of the night. Who knows? Money is a powerful thing...

Also, don't forget something very important: Paul's letters were written before the gosples themselves! So, what seems to be a chronological ordering of the New Testament only appears to be so! Paul could have made up everything, created a new religion (which in fact he did! Paul loves a bloodshed and the whole theme of "redepention" and Jesus says almost nothing about it... plus, Paul never, ever, says nothing about Jesus life: to him, Jesus is "the Lord", a cosmic Christ) and afterwards his (not Jesus) disciples filled the holes, writing the Gospels and Acts.

I'd like to add something else: somewhere you said there's a lot in commom between Judaism and Christianity because, "after all, it's the same God". Well, Islam claims its scripture also came from the same God, the God who spoke to Abraham. Let's take a look on what "the same God" says about Jesus death and ressurection:

(Sura IV.157-158).

“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus The son of Mary, The Apostle of God’; —But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, But so it was made To appear to them, And those who differ Therein are full of doubts, With no (certain) knowledge, But only conjecture to follow, For of a surety They killed him not: —Nay, God raised him up Unto Himself; and God Is Exalted in Power, Wise”

So, since we can't prove (Outside the realm of faith and using the Bible to substanciate the Bible) as "historical fact" that there was a ressurrection, what of your faith now? And why is it so important to believe in this? (it's a rethorical question! I know the answer...) Jesus may be a perfect "role model" even if he didn't exist or there wasn't a ressurrection.

Among the Odinists, (and I count myself among them) there are those who believe in the Eddas literally, others who take it on a symbolical or metaphorical level. That's not so much important as if you live a noble life with honour, strength and loyalty.

From the Eddas we extract virtues to live by. Not "facts" that may or may not be scientificly true. On this basis, our faith (we don't like the word) is much stronger than yours -- because no scientific fact can disprove a virtue.

--The Archer 14:51, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Answer to Einhverfr Edit

"We see ourselves as lifting the world up to new hights and maintaining a raised-up world..."

This is actually surprisingly close to what Christians believe. Early Christians believed (and, of course, the Bible teaches) that God's ultimate renewal of the world began at Easter, when Christ was bodily resurrected (Wright 79-80). It wasn't going to stop with just individual believers, either. Like He had done with Jesus, God was going to resurrect the entire universe, remaking it after liberating it from and dealing with the evil distorting and defacing it (Ibid. 93, 97). Paul compares it to the Israelites in Egypt in Romans 8. Sin is holding creation in bondage, but God will free it as He did the children of Israel. Of course, those loyal to God have a very active role in this. Paul calls us "God's fellow workers" (1 Corinthians 3:9). We're the agents of the transformation of this Earth.

"IMO, this is because theologians have the wrong priorities in interpreting the story of the Fall from Eden (which I would argue would be better seen as an adolescence and positive coming of age story..."

Why would Christ's death be necessary because of a positive thing? And, for that matter, what is positive about spiritual death?

"Christianity as normally taught adds an element of 'sin' to this equation which is fundamentally unhealthy."

Its unhealthy to think that some actions are right and others wrong?

"Ok, the typical argument goes something like this: The Gospels were not formulated in their current form (even in Greek) until at least the second to third century."

I'm not quite sure who in modern times would be making that argument, as we have a fragment of John dating from the first half of the second century ("St. John Fragment"), or even perhaps to the late first-century (Strobel 80)!

"If we look at textual constructions, we can see clear borrowing from the Greek and Demotic Magical Papyri..."

How so?

"...Paul seems to frequently borrow conceptual frameworks from his target audience..."

Obviously. They are the ones he has in mind while writing...

"Now as far as later borrowings which form parts of accepted folk customs rather than part of accepted scripture..."

Those aren't really relevant...

"This still presupposes a single proper take or version on things. It suggests you can't possibly see vast numbers of local traditions as equally valid."

If we're talking objective, real events, then no, you cannot. It would violate the laws of logic to say that, for example, Christ both was and was not the Messiah at the same time in the same sense.

"You really don't think Greek and Persian mystery religions had nothing to do with the development of the story of Christ?"

I do. For one thing, there's no evidence for it. For another, like with Zoroastrianism, if you're going to go by the timing, then it comes out the other way around (Strobel 161). You've also got to consider the general tendencies with the groups involved. The mystery religions had a habit of freely borrowing ideas and practices from various places(Ibid.). For example, according to the First International Congress of Mithraic Studies, Roman Mithraism was "a new creation using old Iranian names and details for an exotic coloring to give a suitably esoteric appearance to a mystery cult" ("Was the story of Jesus stolen from that of the Persian deity Mithra?."). Basically, Roman Mithraism was Mithraism in name only (Ibid.). On the other hand, the Jews strongly resisted Pagan rituals and ideas, carefully guarding their beliefs from outside influences (Strobel 161).

"Also historians are not entirely unanimous about the existence of Christ as a historical figure."

I know of a total of two people who might be classified as historians who support the Christ-myth, so I guess technically that's true. However, for there to be a consensus on an issue, it has to have at least 98% agreement, so there is a consensus among historians that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person.

"The first point is that the mass murders of children discussed in the New Testiment are unattested in Roman records or in Roman annals."

Why should it have been? Herod committed atrocities way, way worse than that. Killing a few infants in a backwater town is one of the least of them. It wasn't a "mass murder", Bethlehem was a pretty tiny town ("History Slaughtered?"). This is nothing more than a misplaced argument from silence.

"The first secular source we see talk about the alleged life of Christ is Tacitus..."

Actually, Josephus' writings are earlier than Tacitus'. Tacitus' Annals was published between 115 and about 120, when Josephus was no longer living ("Harvard University Press: Tacitus, I, Agricola. Germania. Dialogue on Oratory by Tacitus").

"...he simply seems to be using it to discredit Christianity."

Tacitus was certainly no fan of the movement, but there's no indication he was really trying to refute it...

"This puts the life of Christ as a historical figure on about the same footing source-wise as the idea that Odin lived as a human king of Denmark, as in Saxo's Gesta Danorum."

XD Yes, I'm sure Saxo thought that the "wizard age" when Odin lived was just a few decades back. Also, we have as many non-Christian references to Christ and Emperor Tiberius with 150 years of their lives, nine for each.

"However, this has nothing to do with religious validity..."

How is a fictional character supposed to rescue and restore the world?

"You are defining truth as 'literal fact' while I am defining it for the purpose of religion as 'meaningful, valid exemplary model.'"

While certainly useful fictions do exist, putting faith in them is counterproductive. There's nothing wrong with being jolly on Christmas, but expecting presents from Santa Claus is a bad idea!

"Evolution can be valid as a literal fact..."

For the record, I would argue that it is not.

"The case that he believed in a triune god is based on the combination of Letters, Timaeus, and Republic and requires reading these three together and observing cross-references."

Where are the references located in the texts?

"In essence the conceptual three-fold division was something that the early Greeks brought with them to Greece and developed in parallel to the First Capitoline Triad in Rome or the Odin/Thorr/Freyr divisions in Norse myth."

Those are triads of gods. Thor is not a hypostasis of Odin, as Jesus is to God, he's a separate deity altogether.

The roots of the Trinity can be clearly seen in the Old Testament (and intertestamental Wisdom literature). For example, throughout it the power of God's spoken word in emphasized (see, for example, Psalms 33:6, 107:20, Isaiah 55:11; Jeremiah 23:29; 2 Esderas 6:38, Wisdom 9:1). Indeed, as Richard Longenecker wrote, "Judaism understood God's Word to have almost autonomous powers and substance once spoken; to be, in fact, 'a concrete reality, a veritable cause.'"(Longenecker 145). As the New Testament says, Christ is that Word. We find a similar foundation for the Holy Spirit. The "spirit of the Lord" and "hand of the Lord" are frequently mentioned as doing things (for example, Genesis 1:2, Exodus 31:3, Numbers 24:2, 1 Kings 18:46, etc.) As with the Logos, this is also present in intertestamental Wisdom literature (for example, in Wisdom 9:17).

"The Gospel according to John, though, borrows the language and textual constructions from Neoplatonists..."

How so?

"Iirc, this is the Great Magical Papyrus which is currently in Paris."

That's a seventh century document based on combination Christian ideas and other religious traditions ("The History of the Catholic Church and the Origins of Christians Mysticism").

"...I think you are confusing stories there a bit."

All of that occurred in the version reported by Saxo (Davidson 49-50).

"However, regardless of that, Odin is a sinister god."

Then why would you want to have him as a role model?

"Now, I am not aware of any primary lore detailing rape in the modern sense..."

I assure you, it is present...


Sources:

Davidson, H. R.. Scandinavian Mythology. O.G.A.M. Verona, 1969. Print.

"Harvard University Press: Tacitus, I, Agricola. Germania. Dialogue on Oratory by Tacitus." LOEB Classical Library. Harvard University Press. 12 Jun 2009 <http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/L035.html>.

"The History of the Catholic Church and the Origins of Christians Mysticism." Touchstone. Washington and Lee University. 12 Jun 2009 <http://home.wlu.edu/~lubint/Touchstone/MagicChr-Mims.htm>.

Holding, J.P.. "History Slaughtered?." Tektonics. Tekton Education and Apologetics Ministry. 12 Jun 2009 <http://www.tektonics.org/qt/slaughtinn.html>.

Holding, J.P.. "Was the story of Jesus stolen from that of the Persian deity Mithra?" Tektonics. Tekton Education and Apologetics Ministry. 12 Jun 2009 <http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/mithra.html>.

Longenecker, Richard. The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity. Regent College Publishing, 1994. Print.

"St. John Fragment." The John Rhylands University Library - The University of Manchester. University of Manchester. 12 Jun 2009 <http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/specialcollections/collections/stjohnfragment/>.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998. Print.

Wright, N. T.. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. Print.


Brock Laveman 02:15, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

An Initial Reply to Brock Edit

First, in brief, I wish to address the main points you raise in your initial post, then in additional sections I’ll address other arguments related to this debate.


1. That Asatru has an inferior basis for its beliefs than Christianity. The Eddas, for example, have shaky textual support and are contradictory.


Here you make a severe mistake by misunderstanding the basic nature of Asatru, and pagan religion in general. Even if, by comparison, there is more abundant textual support for the Christian Scriptures, unlike the Abrahamic religions, Asatru is not ultimately a text based religion and the attitude of Asatuar towards their sacred texts is radically different than that of the conservative Christian. As the Asatruar makes no claims of inerrancy or infallibility attempting to demonstrate the very real weaknesses of the extant texts we possess is of limited importance. In affect you must demonstrate a radical sort of unreliability of the texts of the Asatruar for this line of argumentation to be in any way meaningful, while the Christian who holds to inerrancy or infallibity must contrarily demonstrate a radical sort of reliability of their own.


2. Odin and Norse pantheon have not always been the objects of worship by Northern Europeans.

This is absolutely true, but also absolutely irrelevant. Pagan religions do not claim the same sort of universalism that the Abrahamic religions do, so proving this would amount to very little indeed. Pagan religions do not claim their understanding of deities is perfect and fixed for all of time, quite contrarily they evolve through time and context and experience. We can through linguistics and other tools somewhat reconstruct what earlier groups believed all the way back to what a sort of Proto-Indo-European Paganism likely looked like. The fact this differs from both Iron Age and Modern Paganism though is not contested. This sort of evolution is seen as natural part of religion, not an aberration.


3. There is strong supporting evidence for Christianity, whereas none for Odinism.


Here we get into the realm of what exactly represents evidence of a theology or philosophy as opposed to evidence of a historical event. Your “evidence” is entirely based around the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, (something which is not nearly so based in any sort of hard evidence as you attempt to claim) however even should we for the sake of argument allow that the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth took place, that would not be sufficient to prove the truth of Christianity, as Christianity is based not merely around Jesus having risen from the dead, but around that resurrection possessing a very particular meaning. This is to say that while the resurrection is certainly a necessary condition for proving the truth of Christianity; it is not by itself a sufficient condition for proving it. --Hweila 06:11, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

The Archer's Missed Shots Edit

"But first of all, let me say: call them 'historic facts' it's not accurate. The way you put them forward, shows (as should be expected, of course) a very strong Christian bias."

Biases don't have anything to do with whether a piece of information is right or not.

"So, when defending your views, state clearly you're speaking from a Christian point of view."

The Introduction established that already...

"Christians usually use the Bible to prove the Bible... Why? Because outside it there's very little hard evidence to prove Jesus ever existed!"

I'd disagree very strongly. Within 150 years of his death, nine secular, non-Christian sources mention Jesus: Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Phlegon, Lucian, Celcus, probably Suetonius and Thallus, and Mara Bar-Serapion. The Emperor of Jesus' day, Tiberius, has that exact same number of references! (Tacitus, Suetonius, Valleius Paterculus, Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, Seneca, Vallerius Maximus, and Josephus.)

"Josephus text is very disputed here. Many scholars agree it's a latter interpolation. There are diferences in style here compared to the rest of the text. So it's no reliable."

Let's unpack the text. The passage in question is Antiquities 18.3.3:

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

Obviously, there are interpolations. However, a strong majority of scholars hold that the passage is, in fact, partially authentic. Feldman reports that fom 1937 to 1980, of 52 scholars reviewing the subject, 39 found portions of the passage to be authentic (Holding 25). Now, about the passage itself. The main relevant portion is where it says "And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross..."

The mention of Pilate doesn't really support either theory, as it would be used by a Jewish historian or a Christian familiar with the Gospel narratives (Holding 31). The reference to "principal men" is very common in Josephus (such as in Antiquities 17.81, 18.7, 18.99, 18.121, 18.376, etc.), yet has no counterpart in the Gospels or any other early Christian writings. A Christian interpolator would be more likely to refer to "the Jews" or "the Sanhedrin", or possibly the "Pharisees" or the "Sadducees" (Ibid.). The phrase "amongst us" is often used by Josephus as well, such as in the Preface of Antiquities 1.3, Antiquities 10.2.2, 12.6.2, 14.10.1, 15.3.2, 15.10.5, etc. Also unlike Christian writings, it simply notes that Jesus was crucified at the instigation of some of the leading Jewish men. Such a bland reference makes more sense for Josephus than it would for a Christian writer, who would be more eager to describe how their motives in killing Jesus were improper or at least unjustified (Holding 31).

"I assume you're refering to Tacitus "Annals", written in ... 116!"

So what? He writes of things that occured decades before 33 A.D., and is very, very reliable when doing so (Hadas XVIII-XIX).

"Not an eye-witness account anyway..."

So? Barely any of ancient history is.

"Lucian, also, wrote a century later."

That's more than made up for by his critical capabilities. Lucian was very concerned with historical accuracy, as he made clear in his work "The Way to Write History":

"History...abhors the intrusion of any least scruple of falsehood; it is like the windpipe, which the doctors tell us will not tolerate a morsel of stray food."

"The historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened."

"[The historian] must sacrifice to no God but Truth; he must neglect all else; his sole rule and unerring guide is this - to think not of those who are listening to him now, but of the yet unborn who shall seek his converse."

He also mocks people who fill in the gaps of their histories with invented material. For example, he laudes Thucydides for composing "speech-in-character" when he didn't know what a certain Afranius had actually said. Of that, he writes:

"...the flood of rhetoric which follows is so copious and remarkable that it drew tears from me - ye Graces! - tears of laughter; most of all where the elegant Afranius, drawing to a close, makes mention, with weeping and distressful moans, of all those costly dinners and toasts. But he is a very Ajax in his conclusion. He draws his sword, gallantly as an Afranius should, and in sight of all cuts his throat over the grave - and God knows it was high time for an execution, if oratory can be a felony."

Now, that said, Lucian wouldn't be someone to report something because the Christians said so. "The Passing of Peregrinus" is all about how Peregrinus takes advantage of the Christian's gullibility and simplicity (Holding 70). Noting that Lucian was well-educated, well-traveled, and a major literary figure of his time, if anyone was in a position to know whether Jesus and the crucifixion were a myth and expose this, it would have been Lucian (Holding 71-72).

"Do you trust the Talmud? The very one who says Jesus was the son of a whore with a Roman soldier?"

This is a textbook example of the Principle of Enemy Attestation. Despite how critical the Talmud is of Christ and all things Christian, it reports that the crucifixion really did take place and that Jesus really was a historic figure. It didn't pull any punches. If there had been reason to doubt these things, this document definitely would have told us so.

"'Hearsay' seems more likely to me than 'historical facts'."

If you read Tacitus, there are endless examples of his reporting rumor and gossip as rumor and gossip. For example, in Germany 46, he writes:

"All else is fabulous, as that the Hellusii and Oxiones have the faces and expressions of men, with the bodies and limbs of wild beasts. All this is unauthenticated, and I shall leave it open."

Note that there is no such language in Annals 15.44, the quote in question:

"But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind."

"I'm 100% positive my late granny appeared to me. I swear to you!"

I doubt you'd be so sure if someone had a pistol to your head...the disciples, James, and Paul were willing to die for their belief in the resurrection.

"Odysseus was also sure Lady Athena appeared to him, and talked to him."

Your source for that is a work of fiction.

"Homer could swear to you..."

There are far better natural explanations for whatever you were going to continue with, most likely legendary embellishment. That doesn't work for the resurrection, however, as the claims can be traced back to the original disciples themselves.

"It's written in a book that some people, pretty much shaken with the death of their master, said they saw him."

I didn't cite just one book (or even books exclusively), and this doesn't even attempt explain why they believed it so strongly to their deaths.

"Someone said he/she saw Jesus. That's all."

It isn't just some random Joe Shmoe saying "uh, yeah, I saw that guy", it's a group of twelve men who were with Jesus for forty days, who were so sure they had seen and spoken with Him they very willingly suffered and died for that belief.

"I'm doubtful of your 'atheist scholars'... It doesn't sound too atheistic to me."

I didn't say the scholars thought Jesus had risen, just that they thought the disciples were certain that had occured and they had seen Him.

"Maybe the only true person in all this, the only one who actually lived in those times (the other exception being of course John the Baptist -- this one appears in Josephus, whithout doubts concerning the text..."

You know James and Pilate are in Josephus as well, right? Also, other early writers talk about the other Apostles (my personal favorite being Papias).

"No doubt Paul converted sincerely... But Paul could have been an epileptic (I mean no disrespect, only trying to give you another view, a scientific one). He may had hallucinated in the heat (the weather or in his sincere pursuit of early christians)."

The problem with that is that the appearance to Paul was a group appearance - Paul's companions saw it as well. Even if Paul had been hallucinating, only he would have seen it. Hallucinations are private events, like dreams. They cannot occur in groups.

"Someone's conviction proves nothing concerning the truth of one's belifes."

I never said that it did. The point is that they did believe it, and this must be explained.

"To me it's like a fictional character talking to other."

If James is fictional, how do you explain his mention in the early Christian creed I presented? Or his repeated appearances in Josephus?

"It's using the Gospel to prove the Gospel is true."

Perhaps if you ignore the oral tradition and extra-Biblical reports I referenced...

"What hard, solid, historical proof do you have to the empty tomb? None. You have texts that say so."

What "hard, solid, historical proof" do you have Aristotle lived? Or the Colossus of Rhodes stood? None. You have texts that say so, and it looks like you take them on some serious faith. That said, what reason is there to doubt the texts?

"Maybe the Jews and Romans were right: someone bribed the guards to take the body in the middle of the night."

Even if that were true, how would it explain the appearances?

"Paul could have made up everything..."

That wouldn't explain why the disciples, James, or even really Paul himself believed so strongly that Christ had risen, or even why they were claiming it in the first place.

"...created a new religion (which in fact he did! Paul loves a bloodshed and the whole theme of 'redepention' and Jesus says almost nothing about it..."

If Paul were simply plucking doctrines out of thin air, don't you think someone would have noticed? Due to his previous occupation, the church was deeply suspcious of Paul. Not only that, but one of the other Apostles would have rebuked and denounced him if he were doing that sort of thing. Nobody in the church would have sided with Paul over the other Apostles.

That said, Jesus does talk about it quite extensively. For example, in John 6:53-59 - Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Also, if you're going to make an ancient relgion from scratch, you probably couldn't do much worse in the first century than if you came up with Christianity! For one thing, its based on a crucified man. In that world, there was absolutely nothing lower. It would be comparable to, if not worse than, being a child abuser convicted of multiple counts in our day, as it was the highest possible shame one could recieve. For example, Celcus describes Jesus as having been "bound in the most ignominious fashion", Josephus calls crucifixion "the most wretched of deaths", and an oracle of Apollo wrote that Christ had been "...executed in the prime of life by the worst of deaths...". Even worse than that, though, was that it wasn't just a crucified man, but that God Himself had been crucified! Justin Martyr wrote in his first Apology 13:4:

"They say that our madness consists in the fact that we put a crucified man in second place after the unchangeable and eternal God..."

Christianity would be lucky to get any followers with a belief like this, let alone spread across the Roman Empire! The only thing that could vindicate Christ is if He were to have been resurrected. Only that could restore His honor in the eyes of the ancients, and Christianity would have had to have had some serious evidence on its side for that to attract anyone. Especially given the fact that it was a top-heavy movement, having a disproportionate number of the high ranking and wealthy members ("The Impossible Faith"). These guys had the most to lose, were the best educated, and had the most resources at their disposal to check the claims of Christianity.

"...plus, Paul never, ever, says nothing about Jesus life: to him, Jesus is 'the Lord', a cosmic Christ..."

Paul actually does say quite a bit about Jesus' life:

Jesus was physically buried. (1 Cor. 15:4) Jesus died by crucifixion. (2 Cor. 13:4 and elsewhere) Jewish authorities were involved with Jesus' death. (1 Thess. 2:14-16) Jesus underwent abuse and humiliation. (Romans 15:3) The death of Jesus was at the hands of earthly rulers. (1 Cor. 2:8) Jesus' death was related to Passover. (1 Cor. 5:7) Jesus was betrayed on the night of the Lord's Supper. (1 Cor. 11:23-25) Jesus initiated the Lord's supper and referred to the bread and the cup. (1 Cor. 11:23-25) Jesus had a brother named James. (Galations 1:19) Paul refers to Peter by the name Cephas (rock), which was the name Jesus gave to him. (1 Cor. 3:22) Jesus taught about the end-time. (1 Thess. 4:15) Jesus prayed to God using the term "abba". (Galations 4:6) Jesus was a direct descendent of King David. (Romans 1:3) Jesus was referred to as "Son of God". (1 Cor. 1:9) Jesus was born in human fashion, as a Jew, and had a ministry to the Jews. (Galations 4:4)

How, exactly, would Jesus go about all this without ever being on Earth?

"I'd like to add something else: somewhere you said there's a lot in commom between Judaism and Christianity because, 'after all, it's the same God'. Well, Islam claims its scripture also came from the same God, the God who spoke to Abraham."

Islam and Judeo-Christianity go together like oil and water. If you accept the Koran, you've got to reject all of Christianity's most basic doctrines, and ignore quite a bit of the Old Testament. That's why Muslims have had to resort to the whole "the Bible is corrupted" argument.

"Let's take a look on what 'the same God' says about Jesus death and ressurection:"

How is the Koran even relevant here? What does its denial of the resurrection prove?

"...using the Bible to substanciate the Bible..."

Actually, I'd argue that that is in some cases a valid practice. The Bible is a collection of many distinct works.

"Jesus may be a perfect 'role model' even if he didn't exist or there wasn't a ressurrection."

There are, however, very good reasons for believeing that Jesus did exist and really was resurrected. If you take those to be true, then life as a whole takes on a new purpose and meaning. Simply saying "that guy was pretty smart, I guess I'll try and take some of his advice" robs you of all of that.

"Among the Odinists, (and I count myself among them) there are those who believe in the Eddas literally, others who take it on a symbolical or metaphorical level. That's not so much important as if you live a noble life with honour, strength and loyalty."

There's nothing wrong with following most of the teachings in the Eddas, but hoping that doing so will get you into Valhalla without any sort of fact to base it on is arbitrary and extremely foolish thinking.

"From the Eddas we extract virtues to live by. Not 'facts' that may or may not be scientificly true."

Then what basis is there to trust them on? How do you know that the Eddas' promises for the afterlife are going to come true?

"On this basis, our faith (we don't like the word) is much stronger than yours -- because no scientific fact can disprove a virtue."

We're not debating if Odinism has a good moral code or not, we're debating its truth. If an idea has no evidence for it and no evidence can disprove it, there is no reason to accept it. Would you believe watermelons are actually blue, until someone looks at them?


Sources:

Hadas, Moses. Complete Works of Tacitus. New York: Random House, 1942. XVIII-XIX. Print.

Holding, J.P. "The Impossible Faith." Tekton. Tekton Education and Apologetics Ministry, Wed. 10 Oct 2009. <http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nowayjose.html>.

Holding, J.P. Shattering the Christ Myth. Xulon Press, 2008. Print.

--Brock Laveman 20:52, December 20, 2009 (UTC)


Disagreements with Brock Edit

A few points here are worth mentioning.

I think the first, most fundamental mistake Brock makes is in trying to equate Christianity and Odhinism simply as being systems of belief. I.e., that religion is what you believe rather than a more complex look at how we use it to fashion our lives. Christianity and Islam, alone of all the main religions of the world, share this conviction that belief matters at all. It's a comforting idea, really, that simply be believing the right things, that one's shortcomings will matter less or perhaps not at all. This is an idea that I emphatically reject. I think it's OK to make mistakes as long as these stem from an individual search for truth. This truth cannot be imparted by others or other religious groups: it must be individually won. This means that each of us must take personal responsibility for that search. We cannot simply assume that the local priest or holy man of any color can do much to help that along. Only by our own studies and through questioning can we make progress.

I don't know any Odhinist who believes that merely by honoring the gods, Valhalla's gates will open for him. Our religion is an orthopraxy and based on our practices, not our beliefs. Hence it is more important how we live and how we observe our ancestral rituals than what we think about it. You can be an Odhinist and believe that the myths are all nothing more than good stories. One cannot be a Christian and see the Bible as merely a great work of literature. If this is a debate about whose beliefs are better, I would rather not participate in a debate framed so that the only two religions on the battlefield are Christianity and Islam. If this is a debate about religious systems, the fundamental question needs to boil down to which is better: to live a great life? or to wilfully believe what a given church says? Our religion emphasizes the former over the latter and trusts that the latter develops from the former. Christianity, IMO, puts the cart before the horse.

The third issue concerns Christ's physical existence or lack thereof. The simple fact is that there is not sufficient reason to conclude this either way. However, we can make some conclusions about mythological elements of the Christ story even if we cannot conclude that Christ lived or did not. The Tacitus passage is interesting for a large number of reasons. In particular Tacitus makes a number of uncharacteristic errors suggesting that he is not working from original sources but is in fact merely passing on what the Christians profess to believe. Furthermore there is the question of whether Tacitus actually wrote "Christos" (Greek for "Messiah") or "Chrestos" (translated sometimes as "The Good One" but Hans Dieter Betz translates as "The Most Excellent" in his translation of the Greek Magical Papyri corpus). Personally I think Chrestos is the more likely and this tracks some contemporary PGM sources which use Christos and Chrestos interchangeably. If so, though, this calls into question whether the documents may have been slightly edited by another hand. This isn't unusual though and scribe's errors would not be out of the question.

Stepping back from this, however, we can identify a number of key pagan (Hellenistic) elements of the Christ story. These suggest to my mind that Christianity began as a Hellenized offshoot of Judaism (see Philos writings for a perspective that matches where I think this came from). I personally think that Christ is best seen as a Hellenistic pagan god with a Jewish veneer. Against this backdrop Tertullian's insistence that this stuff is so crazy that it must be true because nobody would make it up seems misguided. The same could be said about Hesiod, Apuleis, or any of the great mythological sources of the ancient world. Furthermore the Gospels in their present form aren't even as old as Tacitus's writings and they could bear the same relationship between literature and religion that the Golden Ass did to the Cult of Isis.

So I don't see anything that is strong evidence of Christ's existence.

None of this prevents Christianity from providing a great mythological backdrop to life (and in fact, many Christians, consciously or not, find such a backdrop). But it does suggest that the historical arguments are likely misplaced.

In the end religion is about providing a framework for understanding life in referential terms. It is about providing patterns we can live and relive in our lives. To the extent you have found these in Christianity, I am happy for you. My religion suits me better in this area.

--Einhverfr

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